One Little Change

I should have done it months ago – buy one of those round-the-body harnesses for Tilly. But each time I would walk her and it would be pure torture, I thought, she just needs more practice, more training.

I have long since stopped walking her with a regular neck collar. She pulled so hard that she was constantly gasping and choking and gagging herself. It was unseemly.

A few months ago, I opted for the Gentle Leader, which fits around her nose and the back of her head and supposedly mimics a mother dog snapping at the snout or biting at the nape of the neck for correction.

Tilly just found it a nuisance.

Whenever we would walk with the Gentle Leader, I had to keep Tilly on a very short leash, and with each bit of naughty pulling, I would do a quick, upward yank. Momma Dog biting and snapping.

Only instead, she would pull harder then I would pull then the gentle leader would smoosh her eyes and make her head snap back and I would feel terrible and still end up with a sore arm.

It wasn’t pretty.

But a week or so ago, I walked my friend Kelly’s smart little mixed breed with one of the round-the-body harnesses. Granted, Sophia is a good 30 pounds lighter than Tilly, but I actually enjoyed walking her. With just minor pulling and no snapping, we both made a happy walk around the block.

So, a few days ago, I bought a harness for Tilly. Saturday morning, I wove her legs through the various loops, adjusting the straps for her 60-odd pounds. She scratched at it for a while in the house, but by the time we arrived at the park, she was doing her usual whimper of excitement.

For 30 minutes, we both strolled briskly around the park. She pulled a little, but mostly enjoyed  having the length of the leash to explore and sniff around. After one big lap around the park, I was almost ready for another. But not yet. Not in the heat, and not until we both get a little more in shape.

Who knew the difference just one little change would mean?

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Charity Singleton Craig

Charity Singleton Craig is a writer, author, and speaker, helping readers grow in their faith and experience true hope in the middle of life’s joys and sorrows. She is the author of My Year in Words: what I learned from choosing one word a week for one year and coauthor of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts.